Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Obsession.....

Hello. My name is Sarah Forstner, and I'm a Herman Story Stalker.


Well, it's true, and I should just come straight out and admit it.

But in fact, I'm actually a Herman Story addict. I can't get enough. And on a Tasting Room Girl's salary it's really true: I really can't get enough bottles of Herman Story wines. (sigh) I'd drink it every night if I could, and I'd even inject it straight into my veins when necessary (although that actually defeats the purpose of tasting wine, but whatever.....)

So ever since I've found Herman Story, I've been recommending Herman Story to anyone who asks my opinion about wine. That said, I need to stop as these folks keep going there and buying the wine that I want to keep all to myself! But I did tell my dear friend Jackie all about Herman Story - so this past Sunday, she and her husband, Bob, decided to swing buy and taste the wines. HELLO! (sing song voice) That was the perfect opportunity to swing by Herman Story to keep Jackie company, introduce her around, and just happen to have the time to taste through the wines again. And again. And again.

So we went through the wines, but this time I got a few bonuses. First off, they were pouring "Casual Encounters," the GSM blend that Cameron was waxing bottles of the first day I arrived at the tasting room. I wanted to buy that bottle just because of the gorgeous label: Honeybees crawling all over a beautiful flower - a chance encounter of hot love between a honeybee and a flower :)

The vino was INCREDIBLE! 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache & 30% Mourvedre. Ok - I may prefer to see this wine in about a year or so, but my goodness, you could sure tell the amazing quality - and decanting may take care of any tightness anyway. Another "ball hit out of the park" by Russell From. It's just so neat to find such a gifted winemaker who creates fabulous wine after fabulous wine. I wish I could just buy his whole collection of vino!

Here's what Russell says about his 2009 Casual Encounters:

"2008 was my first vintage of Casual Encounters, and I was quite impressed by how dark and brooding it was. As you know, my wines are typically -how shall I say- HUGE, but this wine is a different sort of beast altogether, something looming with fangs and long arms…but from a distance. If the 2008 was a werewolf, then the 2009 is the cabin you’re holed up in waiting for the beast to strike. A nose of raspberry brambles, cedar chest, fresh forest, minced meat pie and dried violet. A lengthy, inky palate of apple from a roast pig’s mouth, leather, fig, white smoke and the sense of summer turning into fall." (DRINK NOW: 1 hour decant; CELLAR: 4-5 years)

By the way, Russell was there that day! It was so nice to finally meet the man behind Herman Story wines. Here's a photo of Russell with his gorgeous girl, Vailia:

So what's up next? BONUS! Russell & Vailia poured Larner Vineyard (single Vineyard) Grenache & Syrah for us. They are both wine club only bottles so it was a rare treat to get them.

The Grenache was probably the biggest Grenache I've ever had - leaning more towards a Spanish Garnacha. It was actually quite dry/tannic - surprising for me - and I loved it. It was a HUGE hit for my friend, Jackie, and that is the one she ended up buying for the day.

Then they poured the Larner Syrah - Amazing. How does this dude do it? On top of that, this label pictures the real Herman Story riding on logs from his logging days. Proof Wine Collective helped create the label and boy did they do a bang up job. Keep in mind, this is a real photo that is now artistically turned into a wine bottle label:

Yeah - that's him! Herman Story pictured above!

Then Russell took us into the back where he makes the wine, and showed us a few of his amazing new barrels. Barrels that have extremely thick wood as well as extremely high toast levels (think wood with a high level of being charred, burned & toasted to impart certain qualities on the vino.) These barrels cost around $1,500 - no small investment when you need to buy a lot of barrels!

Then we went back to the tasting room and again tried the "Nuts & Bolts" Syrah. Though I'm in love with "Casual Encounters," though I'm on the floor for the "On the Road Grenache," I'm simply in awe of the "Nuts & Bolts Syrah - THE best wine I've had in my entire life. Thank you Mr. Russell From for making such fantastic wine. And you really wonder why I'm a stalker?

And to wrap it us, here's a photo of myself with my dear friend Jackie & her "Herman Story Loving" Husband, Bob  - my stalker partners in crime :)  - photo taken by Boyfriend, of course.

A couple days later I ran into Russell & Vaiia in the Trader Joe's check-out line. I ran up to Vailia saying, "It's true! I really am a Herman Story Stalker! I even follow you to Trader Joe's!" Hahahah.

Can you believe it? In one month, three blogs on one subject: Herman Story Wines." This has never been done before, and probably will never be done again.

Long live Herman Story Wines!

P.S. for Russel & Vailia: No need to take a restraining order out on me - at least not yet, anyway. This is all in good fun!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vale Fine Arts Gallery Opening Gala

I was so excited to hear that a new contemporary art gallery was opening in downtown Paso! It's called Vale Fine Arts and is owned by Madeline Vale along with her husband Edward Wilcox - who is a fabulous artist, I must say.

This past Saturday evening was their "Grand Opening Gala" with a ribbon cutting ceremony & party. The "who's who" of the wine industry & art scene were there - and I had *so* much fun catching up with old friends! (I mean, come on! Who wouldn't attend this party? It's not often you get something new & exciting in Paso! If you didn't go, "Loser!" in the sing song voice.) First off, Cypher Winery was pouring excellent vino along with 15C supplying my favorite cava bubbles - woo hoo! Cypher only brought magnums - thankfully so as they are sexy & more "artistic" - and supply a lot more wine :)

Many apologies to my buddy T, the bartender for the night, for going through the line so many times to get more bubbles.....

My dear friend Michelle completely fell in love with a piece of art that Edward did. If you can believe it, he made it using tar - though it looks more like a reactive finish. I think the piece was the crowd favorite for the night. Michelle is starting a penny jar to get up to the $10,000 + price tag:

(Apologies that the photo isn't clear. Obviously I was on too many bubbles....)

And here's a photo of Michelle with Lisa & Losh (Losh works at 15C) all in front of Michelle's coveted art piece:

Suddenly, my dear friend Laura from Clayhouse Wines showed up. I didn't get a chance to chat with her, but she did chat with Boyfriend. Here's their adorable photo:

Laura is one of the first that we met when we came to the area and we're forever grateful that she helped show us around :)

OK. On to the art. Here's a few great shots of what's in the gallery:

The artist of this last piece is Aleah Koury. He was such an amazingly nice guy! The piece pictured above was one of my favorites for the evening - and here he is in front of another one of his pieces, pictured along side my FABULOUS friend, Lisa:

So lots of eating...and drinking...went on into the wee hours. Most people had left, but we lingered on. Aren't we smart! Lucky us - T from 15C left behind a bottle of cava, unopened and ready to go. I saw Madeline searching for bubbles. I said, "Let's pop this baby open to celebrate your fabulous opening!" And yes, we did. Though when I opened it, I let it "POP" instead of the quiet sommelier thing. I much prefer the "pop" to mark a celebration.

Here's a photo of Madeline & I breaking the bottle open - woo hoo!:

Now I had to get a photo of Madeline & Edward to mark the grand opening night. Here they pose before one of the finest of pieces of art for the night. First off, here's Madeline & Edward:

They are posing before the piece of art called, "Red Legs." Here it is:

"Red Legs" was the piece everyone was talking about for the evening. Too sexy & cool. Madeline, can I work for fine art?

To end the fabulous evening, I ran into Lindsay, aka. "Tasting Room Celebrity." I realized we hadn't done a photo of her in a while - but she happily obliged, blowing smoke into the gorgeous painting that hung in the entry way of Vale Fine Arts:

Tasting Room Celebrity does it again!

A big thanks for Madeline Vale & Edward Wilcox for throwing such an amazing gallery opening. I wish you nothing but the best of success, and I must say how thankful I am that you opened shop in the Paso area.

Check out Vale Fine Art gallery Located at:

619 12th Street, Paso Robles, CA

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taste du SLO Leil!

It's amazing to think that exactly one week ago, I was at the Taste du SLO Leil in San Luis Obispo. Ah, the memories....I wish I could go to the event all over again. Well, in some sort of way I am, by doing this blog tonight for my "Taste du SLO Leil One Week Anniversary!" (Knowing me, I'll use this anniversary as an excuse to do something special every Wed. night. for the rest of the year and beyond. I wonder of Boyfriend is up for that.....)

I must start at the beginning: The Taste of San Luis is an event held every year to benefit the beautification & promotions of downtown San Luis Obispo. My friend, Stephen Patrick of Stephen Patrick Design, sits on the Boards of Directors of the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association. His position on the board is Design Chair, and this event is mostly his to create - & what a fabulous job he does!

Each year there is a different theme for the event. In 2009 it was Wedensday Night Fever (named appropriately as the event is always mid-week.) Here's a photo of Stephen and his husband, Todd dancing the night away:

Then last year, the event theme was Rock the Casbah - oooo - I wish I had been able to go to that! They had a hookah bar, belly dancing and FABULOUS costumes! Here's Stephen with his gorgeous assistant, Sam:

Now a few weeks ago, I realized this year's event was coming up so I got online to check it out, only to find out that this year's event was in the theme of "Cirque du Soleil." As soon as I found that out, I realized HAD to go! I ran into Stephen and he told me that what they were planning was just insane, and he was hoping to top all other years. OK. I'm in. Game on.

I had to work on Wednesday but was twitterpated all day, waiting to be able to go to the event. I got all dressed up at work, and Boyfriend picked me up to then do the drive down to SLO.

When we arrived, this is the scene that greeted us at the entrance:

Yeah. Pretty cool, right?

I was super excited. I mean to get in, we had to duck under the suspended girl pictured above. She had to lift up her legs so us tall folks could get through - pretty fun.

The dancers/actors are from both CORE Dance Company as well as Suspended Motion. Everyone was so excellent at what they were doing - God...I felt so old & out of shape.........

As we were were taking photos of the amazing entryway, we saw that our buddy, Mr. Stephen Patrick himself, was also taking photos. He was all glitzed out in a gold ringmaster costume - we LOVED it! Here's us taking a photo of Stephen taking a photo:

After grabbing our glass of Laetticia bubbles at the entrance, Boyfriend and I walked around to check out the scene. The actors & actresses were scattered everywhere, setting the circus vibe in every corner. Here's a photo to two sexy nymphs:

And one of the coolest costumes of the night:

We wandered closer to the mission, and saw that even the famous bears in the fountain had a circus touch:

And we got to see a sneak peek of the fabulous Mark Wilder while he was practicing his juggling act:

We then wandered back up front to get another glass of bubbles, and I start chatting with a fabulous lady named, Laura. "Where are you from?" I queried. She answered, "Templeton." I said, "Me too, but I be rocking it Eastside" (gang signs raised of course - though I may embellishing on this a bit....) She said, "I'm Eastside too. What winery are you by?" I answered, "Pomar Junction." She said, "Me too!" It ends up, we live a few blocks from each other. What on earth are the odds? Laura's boyfriend said there may be a bit of kismet in the air and we should all get together again soon! Here's a photo of me with the lovely lady (and apparently my neighbor) Laura:

We then realized we were starving and went to where all the food and wine were being served. All the restaurants did tapas style food to then pair with a local winery. It was extra fun for us since both Boyfriend and I are industry, we knew a lot of the folks pouring there. I felt like it was like a high school reunion of sorts :)

As we were grabbing all of the food and vino that we could, we kept running into this fabulous couple - Donna & Tad. We were frequenting the same booths and having to stand in the same lines! (we both have fabulous taste...) Tad works for the San Luis Tribune and the paper had a table at the event.

I loved chatting with Donna - she was quite funny and so sweet. Here's a photo of myself and dear Donna at dusk eating our fabulous goodies. I adore the lighting of this photo:

Suddenly dancers rushed by us. I grabbed one and asked, "What's going on?" "The show is about to begin!" Show? What show? I had no idea! Boyfriend and I ran upfront and sat on the pavement - front row and almost center!

To begin with, Todd Lemay and CORE Dance company started out with a dance act, dancing to one of my favorites songs, Crazy. Here's a photo of the action:

Then here are a few photos of other acts:

But my FAVORITE part of the night was watching the HILARIOUS Mark Wilder - Mr. Juggler man. I simply LOVED his style. Totally light & self-deprecating - he was simply a master at preforming his act.
Here's the first photo of Mark juggling with Harry the juggler (& Spencer the drummer doing the comical drumming behind their act):

I was actually included in Mark's act at one point: he wanted to juggle a flaming torch, a sharp cleaver and a bowling ball all at once. He passed the bowling ball to me to judge its' weight, and wanted me to throw it back to him. I just quickly rolled it back before I had to get in on the action of throwing a 16 lb bowling ball his way. Yeah, I would have probably caused a major accident.....

Here's Mark juggling all three dangerous items - good god, man!

As if that wasn't enough, the highlight of Mark's act was that he was going to juggle flames while riding a unicyle. I have my own experience riding unicycles so I was quite excited to see what was up. Here I am doing my thing:

OK. So I admit, I really wasn't riding the unicycle - but I sure look cute, don't I? :) (This photo - why? Yes, well, it's a long story.....)

So Mark, of course, played out every inch of the unicycle bit that he could. First off, he couldn't get on:

Then he had to stretch (yea, that's hot):

Priceless. I got the money shot........ :)

And then, he was about to mount the monster:

And here he is - he made it to the top!!!

And Ta Dah! Here's the master, riding the unicycle, while juggling flaming torches - WOW!

I HEART Mark Wilder! You can contact him at: if you want to schedule him for a show.

This blog keeps on going! It's the longest blog I've ever done - woo hoo! Here comes more:

Now that Mark had his grande finale on the unicycle, the dance party begins. Here's a couple photos of the action:

 And Todd, the Ringmaster, dancing the night away:

Speaking of Disco, here's Boyfriend all dressed up & jazzed up for the night:

And here's a great shot of me and Mr. Stephen Patrick himself:

And to wrap up this fabulous night, I have to highlight the photo of Mission Plaza all lit up. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Boyfriend and I helped out with all the clean up - taking down all the decorations that Stephen brought to the event. I took a photo of the beautiful flowers going away in the truck - why oh why does this magical night have to end???

We captured the image of Stephen & Todd totally exhausted by the event. So much so, they can hardly stand up!

But then I jump in on the action, looking all bright eyed and bushy tailed! Why is the party done already? Is the 2012 party here yet? (I definitely wanted to keep this night going....)

Hooray for the most fabulous Taste du SLO Leil party! I have to say we LOVED this year - but can't wait to see what Mr. Stephen will come up with next year!!

P.S. As you can see in the photos, after the main event was over, Todd took off his make up, but still had glitter on his face. As we were all saying goodbye, Boyfriend hugged Todd goodbye, and got glitter on himself, which we didn't see. We were obviously tired the next morning and Boyfriend didn't shower before work. A big WHOOPS! because Boyfriend had glitter all over him. His new nickname at work is "Sparkles." It just works. If you see him, be sure to call him Sparkles - hee hee! :)

A toast to San Luis Obispo! The happiest city in the USA!!!!!

P.S.S. I just found this video of the event. Enjoy!